Gavaskar urges India to consider keeping with KL Rahul at the WTC final above KS Bharat
Sunil Gavaskar is not impressed with what he saw of India's backup wicketkeeper-batter KS Bharat during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia. The legendary former batter reckons Bharat doesn't deserve to retain his spot for the looming World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval, where he believes KL Rahul shall be considered for the job behind the stumps.
Gavaskar said Rahul being capable of holding the gloves can be the right replacement for the unsettled and unconvincing Bharat as India also try to fill the hole in the batting unit left by the unfortunate absence of their first-choice wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, who is out with an accident.
The former skipper turned commentator took note of the fact that Bharat didn't inspire great deal of confidence with his glovework and looked vulnerable with the willow in hand over four Tests against Australia.
The Andhra right-hander finished his debut series with just 101 runs over six innings. Budget for the difficult conditions, and yet, the technique and range on show weren't one that would promise much of an upward curve, especially in contemporary times against bowling attacks that are deeper than ever before.
Gavaskar wants India to pick KL Rahul above KS Bharat
"Dinesh Karthik summed up the problems with his wicketkeeping quite beautifully (during commentary). The real test of a wicketkeeper is on pitches like these where the ball is turning," Gavaskar told Sports Tak.
"If you look at Travis Head's dismissal, when the ball turned and hit his stumps, KS Bharat's gloves were nowhere near the ball. That means, if the ball hadn't hit the stumps, it would have resulted in 4 byes. This is definitely a cause for concern."
That said, however, giving KL Rahul a return to the side and being given a new lease of life as a Test cricketer would be a huge vote of confidence from the selectors and the management. The Indian opener had been struggling badly before he was dropped after the second Test in Delhi.
The chance to keep wickets and bat No.5 or 6 could be Rahul's last hope to revive his fortunes and finally do justice to his potential as a red-ball player. The cricketer has regularly kept wickets in white-ball cricket and even stood for Test duties on this front during the 2015 Sri Lanka tour, doing a decent job in one of the Tests against R Ashwin's bowling.
"You can see KL Rahul as a wicketkeeper. If he bats at No.5 or 6 in at the Oval (in the WTC final) then our batting will be stronger. Because he batted really well in England last year. He scored a century at the Lord's. Keep KL Rahul in mind when you pick your XI for the WTC final," Gavaskar said.
"Whether they will select him in the XI or not is up to the selection committee but in England, you won't get pitches where the keeper has to stand up to the stumps. In that case, you can pick KL Rahul as a wicketkeeper and even Ishan Kishan can be considered. Their batting is better than Bharat's," he added.